Category Archives: Nightlife
Bars, pubs, nightclubs, live music
Following its launch earlier this year, Skylight became a popular summer destination for rooftop drinking, food and games. Although many rooftop venues have closed for the winter, the Tobacco Quay destination has had a festive makeover. Launching last week, Skylight has been transformed for the winter season with the installation of an ice rink. Although smaller than other alfresco rinks, the Skylight one’s unique selling point is it offers fabulous views of the London skyline while you skate.
I went along to the launch last week having previously visited the venue in the summer and was impressed by how much it had changed. Despite anticipating it would be chilly and windy, I was pleasantly surprised. The top level features two bars – one enclosed in a heated tent and a pergola – heated too – with plenty of seating and blankets if you’re feeling cold. The lower-level is enclosed and include a fondue station, bar, lots of neon and alpine-esque furry seating and day beds. It’s a warm and cosy place which makes a great retreat after a whirl on the ice. There’s also an ice hockey slap shot outside if you’re looking to let off some steam.
The bars serve a wide range of beers, cider, spirits, winter cocktails and mulled wine. We tried the Apple Crumble, a rum and apple concoction that certainly gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Meanwhile, cheese fans will be in their element with the fondue station.
Overall, it’s a great, versatile destination for a wintry night out. The abundance of heating means you’re unlikely to be cold for long, which would usually be my main aversion to outdoor winter venues. There was plenty to keep us occupied and it was a nice change to have a great view while ice-skating. Instagrammers will find there’s plenty of material to pose against with Skylight’s neon and stunning vistas.
- Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Free entry to Skylight. Under 18s allowed until 6pm. Open 2 November 2017 – 14 January 2018. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). For booking, visit the Skylight London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in November, click here.
For a guide to London’s open-air ice rinks this winter, click here.
Arriving for Beauty and the Feast at The Vaults underneath Waterloo station, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The show had been billed as a pantomime and dinner experience, which gave a hint of things to come. I’ve been to The Vaults quite a few times and love the venue for its versatility. We entered from the Leake Street tunnel entrance and the fairy tale vibe started immediately as we walked through the ‘magic mirror’ to the bar area. The bar was like a theatre set, with a melange of vintage furniture, old theatre seating, a disco ball, neon signs and drapes. We were one of the early arrivals so grabbed a suitably fantastically named cocktail to set the tone for the evening. As the bar got busier, a few characters mingled with the audience, breaking the ‘fourth wall’ as we enjoyed a chat with Fairy Liquid, the compere of the evening.
With everyone suitably loosened up with a couple of drinks, Fairy Liquid set up the evening’s agenda, with the panto itself loosely based on Beauty And The Beast. It isn’t long before the ‘Beauty’, aka Belle, arrives, in full Georgian drag splendour. Moving on to the dining room, the set design is amazing and really transports us to an 18th century French château with drapes and chandeliers. It’s a buffet, supper club setting so be prepared to make new acquaintances over your meal. The feast itself is very fairy tale like, featuring roast pumpkins, cauliflower cheese, plump sausages and blue cheesecake, followed by a ginger jelly and coconut ice cream dessert served in a tea cups [no chipped china ;-)] with mushroom-shaped meringues.
In between courses, we were treated to interludes of performance, with Belle and the Beast avoiding each other like the plague to the chagrin of Fairy Liquid, who is intent on getting them together with the encouragement of the audience. The climax of the feast gives us the happy ending we expect with the night getting suitably raucous with pop anthems, dancing on the table and some striptease. By this point, the audience were suitably tipsy and had really embraced the camp and spectacle of the event. With the cheesy soundtrack and constant flow of alcohol, it’s no surprise the evening ends on rather higher spirits than you would expect from a typical theatre experience. If you like immersive experiences with a high dose of booze, music and fabulousness, then check out Beauty and the Feast while it’s still on.
- Beauty And The Feast is on from 6 October 2017 – 4 January 2018 at The Vaults (entrance via Leake Street tunnel), Launcelot Street, Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. Shows run from Tues-Sun. Door open 6.30pm, Show starts 7.30pm. Age 16+. Tickets start from £35 (includes dinner, dessert and DJs). For booking, visit The Vaults website.
For the latest what’s on in London guide, click here.
Want to celebrate Halloween, but still haven’t sorted your plans? Well, why not party for a good cause this weekend at KIDS charity’s Halloween bash at iconic London nightclub Tramp.
The fabulous St James venue is hosting a Halloween bash on Friday 27 October with all funds raised going to charity. You can expect a night of spooky festivities, ghoulishly glamorous costumes, cocktails and dancing. Kicking off at 8pm, guests will enjoy complimentary cocktail and canapés, with DJs keeping them entertained until the early hours.
All money raised on the night will go towards supporting disabled children, young people and their families. The price of a ticket will pay for a disabled child to attend two KIDS play group sessions. The KIDS charity was established in 1970 and now provides over 120 different services and works with 80 local authorities across the country. In 2016, KIDS helped over 13,500 children and their families.
Tramp is one of the capital’s most exclusive private members’ clubs with a glittering history dating back to 1969. Over the decades, Tramp has hosted royalty and entertainment legends Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Keith Moon, Rod Stewart, George Best, Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen and Sir Michael Caine, among many others. Many celebrities have celebrated their wedding receptions at the club, including Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, Liza Minnelli and Ringo Starr. More recently, the likes of Rihanna, Drake, David Beckham, Kate Moss, Noel Gallagher have partied the night away at Tramp.
- The KIDS Halloween Party takes place on Friday 27 October 2017 at Tramp, 40 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DN. Nearest station: Green Park. 8pm-3am. Tickets: £40 (must be purchased in advance). For tickets, visit the KIDS charity website.
For a guide to what else is on over Halloween, click here.
If you’re a fan of vintage or would love to time-travel, this new immersive experience could be right up your street. This December, revellers will have the chance to journey back to World War II with live music, adventures, cocktails and more.
‘Home Front: Immersive Time Travel’ will explore the untold stories from the 1940s, from the often ignored perspective of women, homosexuals and colonial soldiers. Upon arrival, guests will be asked a question and their answer can bring them in nine different directions. Follow your own story as you fight to get out of escape rooms, enjoy intimate performances and are forced to make a decision about your character’s future. Once your journey is completed, you’ll find out who your character was and their decision. The characters are based on real-life people, including a famous fighter pilot who lived openly as a homosexual, an Indian princess-turned-spy and other less well known London figures.
Time travellers will also be entertained with a live swing band and drinks from five separately themed bars. Guests’ entrance time will be staggered, with a range of ticket packages on sale.
- Home Front: Immersive Time Travel takes place on 2 December 2017 at a secret east London location. 5.15pm-10.30pm. Tickets start from £25. For booking, visit DesignMyNight.
For the latest what’s on in London guide, click here.
It’s the spookiest time of the year. It’s not only the Americans that go crazy for the annual scarefest with a host of daytime and nighttime events on for both children and adult on in London. With Halloween falling on a Tuesday this year, we can expect to see ghoulish events kicking off a bit earlier. As half-term holidays are the week before, there’s plenty of Halloween-themed fun for kids in the lead up to the 31 October. Meanwhile, for party animals, there’s plenty of late-night revelry, or for a calmer alternative, there’s special meals and film screenings.
- 1 October – 6 November : The Death Express @ The London Dungeon
Step aboard the Death Express, an old railway transporting the dead. Explore the history of London’s most gruesome residents and crimes. Tickets from £21 (timed entry). London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.
- 17 – 31 October : The Quarter of Curiosity Shop
Newburgh Quarter will be hosting a fortnight of Halloween fun, including a Halloween florist selling posies and bouquets in spooky shades. Also including series of free workshops, including Halloween Headdress making, potion cocktail making, pumpkin planters and a Halloween make-up masterclasses. The Quarter of Curiosity Shop, 2 Newburgh Street, Soho, W1F 7RD. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.
- 21 – 31 October : Boo At The Zoo
A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo including Halloween-themed activities, pumpkin carving, crafts and animal demonstrations. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.50, Child £18.00 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 21 – 28 October : Spookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam
Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: adults £12.50, children £5.50. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.
- 23 – 27 October : Half-Term Horrors @ Eltham Palace
Creepy family fun at the Medieval and Art Deco Eltham Palace. Including costume competitions and pumpkin carving. Book a time slot at 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Tickets: Adults £14.40, Children £8.60. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit English Heritage website. For Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace, click here.
- 24 October : Family Day: Hallowe’en @ Benjamin Franklin House
A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games for 5-11 year olds. 4-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.
- 25 – 29 October : Four Legged Phantoms @ Sutton House
Halloween fun and games in a Tudor manor, including a ghost hunt and spooky stories. Fancy dress encouraged. Halloween activities are free with normal entry. Tickets: Adults £6, Children £3. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest station: Homerton. For more information, visit the National Trust website.
- 26 October : Crafty Pumpkin Fun @ Chiswick House
Children can enjoy pumpkin carving in the kitchen garden of Chiswick House. For 4-11 year olds. 10am-4pm. Tickets: £7 per child with accompanying adult (booking in advance recommended). Chiswick House, Chiswick, W4. Nearest station: Chiswick or Chiswick Park. For booking, visit the Chiswick House website.
- 26 – 29 October : Trick Or Treat Afternoon Tea
Foodies will love this afternoon tea with a spooky twist. Featuring black iced ghoul cupcakes, brownie coffins, blood orange tart and pumpkin sponge rolls. There will also be pumpkin carving classes in the café on Hallows Eve. Afternoon tea: £21.50pp (includes pot of tea or coffee). Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.
- 28 October : Trick Or Treat Run
A Halloween-themed charity run of either 2km, 5km or 10km around a closed park course. For adults and children, fancy dress encouraged. Prizes for the best costumes. Runs at 1.30pm and 5.30pm. Entrance fees start from £12 (adults) and £6 (children) depending on mileage. Richmond Park, Richmond, TW10 5HS. Nearest station: North Sheen, Richmond or Hampton Wick. For more information and to register, visit the Human Race website. Read the rest of this entry
If you didn’t get the chance to enjoy some Oktoberfest action, don’t despair! Coming to London this weekend (14-15 October), is the first beer festival from Heist Bank.
The Paddington bar will be hosting a celebration of some of the UK’s best breweries, including Fourpure, Beavertown, Thornbridge and Wild Beer Co. There will also be some international offerings, including Copenhagenn’s To Øl, Norwegian Lervig, and New Zealand’s Yeastie Boys and 8 Wired. Over 30 breweries will be serving special, seasonal and collaborative brews from the keg and the cask.
As well as plenty of drinking of opportunities, guests can take part in the beer workshops from the festival headliners. When you’re feeling peckish, you can order homemade sourdough pizzas from the wood-fired pizza oven, with inventive toppings such as smoked lardo, Birchden farm asparagus and burnt shallots. There will also be live music and DJs providing you with a drinking soundtrack throughout the day and evening.
- The Heist Bank Beer Festival is on 14-15 October 2017. Open 12pm-11pm (two sessions per day). Heist Bank, 5 North Wharf Road, Paddington, W2 1LA. Nearest station: Paddington or Edgware Road. Tickets: £15 (inc 5 hour session, 2 beer tokens and 1 food token). For more information, visit the Heist Bank website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.
With London Cocktail Week having kicked off, what better way than to celebrate than making your own concotions. Drink supremos Schweppes are hosting a secret bar experience in central London. Located in the quiet enclaves of St Martin’s Courtyard, guests will have the chance to learn the art of cocktail making with some of the best mixologists in the business.
For nine days, the pop-up bar will invite cocktail fans to explore the work of original alchemist, Jacob Schweppes and over 200 years of bubble-making. Guests can take part in the Schweppes Laboratory Experience, where they will be able to create their own sparkling drink. London’s experimental mixologists Smith & Sinclair will be sharing some of their secrets with the chance to see colour-changing gin and tonics to inhalable gin clouds. After mixing up a storm, participants will then head into the Schweppes secret study to relax with a new drink from the brand.
The pop-up is taking place during London Cocktail Week, which sees hundreds of the capital’s bars and restaurants taking part, offering masterclasses, workshops, tastings and £6 cocktails.
- Schweppes Alchemy Bar is open at 21 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2E 9AB. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. Open from 2-11 October 2017. Over 18s only. Tickets: £10 (includes three gin and tonic cocktails, plus immersive cocktail-making class. For booking, visit Eventbrite.
For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.
This October, the team behind Cahoots are taking their underground revelry to a whole new level. The secret Soho basement bar is bringing their special brand of 1940s fun and frolics to an underground party at The Vaults in Waterloo.
In the Victorian arches below Waterloo station will be an evening of vintage post-war fabulousness, with live music, 1940s costumes, food and plenty of cocktails. Upon arrival, guests will be checked in at a 1940s ticket office with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne. To line their stomachs, there will be war-time rations of classic British grub, such as fish-finger sandwiches and sausage rolls. Among the all-inclusive drinks on offer will be Grey Goose, Jack Daniel’s and Bombay Sapphire black-market cocktails.
The Vaults will be transformed into a WWII bunker with plenty of fun and games going on in the coves and tunnels. The main Blitz Room will feature live bands, swing dancers and retro DJs alongside a flow of Cahoots cocktails. For a more intimate experience, people can cosy up and enjoy a Cockney singalong in the 1940s coffee shop, Grey Goose Espresso Martini Bar. If you’re really looking to let loose, head to the Swing House, with Cahoots DJ The Roustabouts keeping the party swinging. And finally, if you’re needing a breather, the hidden Gentlemans Jack Room will provide some respite and a quiet cocktail or two.
- Cahoots Underground Knees Up takes place on Friday 6th October 2017 from 7pm – 1am. At The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. Tickets: Early bird £85, Regular from £95 (includes all cocktails and food). Forties dress seriously encouraged. For more information and tickets, visit the Cahoots website.
For the latest guide to what else is on in London, click here.
The rise in Speakeasy and hidden bars in the capital shows just how much of an appetite we Londoners have for secret revelry. So why not take things once step further and immerse yourself in the 1920s spirit at The Prohibition Party. The long-running event is celebrating its 10th birthday with its most fabulous party yet. Expect flappers, cads and cocktails galore in a night of dancing, drinking and gambling.
Guests are invited to sneak into secret and intimate rooms with a password to keep the feds away. There will be live bands, gramophone DJs, silent cinema, dance troupes and gambling tables. To keep up the pretense of Prohibition, the cocktail menus will be hidden in books while drinks are served in teacups. Aside from the main venue, there will be hidden bars and a secret party room for you to seek out.
Revellers will be encouraged to dress in their finest vintage wares, with lots of tassels, pearls, Mary Janes, tuxes and spats for an evening of 1920s opulence. Early arrivals (7pm-8pm) can have the chance to learn the Charleston at a dance class with the gang from Swing Patrol.
The event is organised by Bourne & Hollingsworth, known for their fabulous parties, bars and restaurant. Along with their landmark The Prohibition Party – they are also behind The Blitz Party, Dark Circus, Cocktails In The City, SS Atlantica and The Chap Olympiad.
- The Prohibition Party takes place on Saturday 30 September from 8pm-2am. Tickets from £30. The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For tickets, visit the Prohibition Party website.
For a guide to what else is on in September, click here.
When it comes to finding a perfect bar, there’s two main things I look for – an extensive cocktail menu and a relatively low-key venue. I’m a sucker for speakeasies and hidden bars off the beaten track so I’m having a new experience and don’t feel I’m jostling for a spot at the bar with a big crowd. When it comes to whisky/whiskey, I’ve flirted with it in the past and am partial to a Bushmills and Coke when I’m visiting family in Ireland, but am yet to become a full whisky convert. However, after hearing of a new hidden Whisky bar in the heart of the City I went to check it out.
Merchant House of Fleet Street is the sister bar to Merchant House Of The City in Bow Lane, the latter being a gin and rum bar with 300 varieties of each. The newer Fleet Street branch focuses on whiskys and whiskeys instead, boasting over 500 different types, predominantly from Ireland and Scotland, but also some offerings from Japan and American Bourbons. To those less experienced whisky drinkers, like myself, there can be the preconceived notion the drink is dark, strong and heavy. However, the experienced mixologists of Merchant House of Fleet Street are here to change your mind, showcasing the fresh and floral side of the mighty Scotch.
The bar is located down Bride Court, a covered alley off Fleet Street dating back to the 18th century. The venue has a natural and contemporary feel, with a rustic wood and white marble bar, lots of plants and green velvet sofas and bar stools giving a subtle nod to the Highlands and Emerald Isle. Behind the bar are huge shelves showcasing the expansive whisky collection. My boyfriend (who happens to be a bit of a whisky aficionado) and I grabbed two stools at the bar as we were looking to experiment with flavours so wanted a seat near the action.
Before we began perusing the extensive menu, we enjoyed a shot of whisky for ‘Whisky Wednesday’ to kick things off. You’ll notice the menu doesn’t list any brands under the cocktail ingredients, just a rough description of the whisky so it means you focus on the flavours instead. I’m a bit of a sucker for floral flavours such as elderflower and rose so started with a Rose Without Thorns (Island Malt, Rosehip Water, Raspberry Cordial and Americano Rosa). It was quite different to any whisky cocktail I’d had before, sweet and light and went down really well. My companion opted for a Karyukai (Japanese whiskey, plum wine and smoked water), which involved the bartender getting out a blowtorch on the water – who doesn’t like a bit of bar theatrics?! Out of the three cocktails we would try that evening, my boyfriend said this was his favourite as he particularly liked the smoky flavour.
Next up, I continued the floral theme with an Émigré (Single Pot Still Whiskey, Bramley Apple Juice, Rhubarb and Elderflower) which came served with a big slice of rhubarb and tasted very dessert-like and I really enjoyed it. My boyfriend opted for something harder – a Sazerac (Cognac, Rye, Sugar, Bitters and Absinthe) which was served in a short glass – definitely one to be sipped slowly!
Finally, we finished with a Mulligan’s Travels (Poitin, Banana, Vanilla Ice Cream and Ginger Soda) and a Brooklyn (Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Picon and Maraschino). The Mulligan’s Travels was my first introduction to Poitin – essentially an Irish moonshine with potatoes as one of the ingredients. The bartender was happy to educate me and I tried a some of it straight before my cocktail. The strength hits you immediately, before the sweet after-taste comes in. When it came to the cocktail, it was somewhat of a hard shake thanks to its ingredients, with the sweetness overpowering the alcohol so it’s a good choice for those who don’t like their concotions too boozy tasting. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn was bittersweet mix served in a sherry glass, complete with maraschino cherry in the bottom.
Overall, it’s a fabulous bar for both whisky and cocktail fans alike. Those unfamiliar with whisky would do well to pay a visit and will be surprised at the variety of flavours in a whisky cocktail. For more seasoned whisky drinkers, with 500 to choose from, there’s more than enough choices to keep your glass topped up. When it came to the venue, the cosy space and the hidden location makes Merchant House particularly appealing. During our couple of hours in the bar, we were never without an empty glass thanks to the attentive and friendly bartenders, who certainly knew their stuff when it came to whisky and were happy to educate us. As well as cocktails, Merchant House also serves a small food menu and host whisky masterclasses if you want to delve in further.
- Merchant House of Fleet Street, 8 Bride Court, City of London, EC4Y 8DU. Nearest stations: City Thameslink, Blackfriars or St Paul’s. Open Mon-Fri 11am-11pm. For more information, visit the Merchant House of Fleet Street website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.